The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that effective communication and messaging are paramount in stopping the virus’s spread. Sakaria Ahmed Muhumed, a YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa alumnus, has been a vital part of COVID-19 prevention efforts in Somalia. As the head of programs at Radio Hargeysa, a Somali-language radio broadcasting network, he has helped create social programs that positively affected his community.
Most recently, Sakaria shares public health messages via radio, social media and vehicle loudspeakers. Through these messages, he shares essential and accurate information with his community about coronavirus prevention. His efforts have inspired other young people in his town and in the YALI RLC East Africa chapter to join him in spreading prevention messages through vehicle loudspeakers. He notes, “The national committee against coronavirus in my country has publicly appreciated my work to combat the first wave of COVID-19.” Sakaria explains that his action has improved his reputation as a journalist and the communication networks within his community.
“Radio makes it easy for me to reach my community, as many people have access to listen,” he explains. Additionally, radio broadcasts make it easier to disseminate COVID-19 awareness messages to internally displaced people and people in rural areas, which, Sakaria notes, are people usually overlooked by the government.
He explains that journalists in Somalia face restrictions that prevent them from honest reporting on corruption, power misuse and transparency in public offices. Sakaria says he will advocate for the passing of a new draft media law to ensure journalists’ protection and security in Somalia. He adds that open reporting and the free flow of information are fundamental tools of democracy.
For Sakaria, being a radio presenter with a focus on social affairs has been a lifelong dream. From a young age, he diligently took notes while listening to BBC Somali broadcasts with his family. Now, he is living his dream and helping slow the spread of coronavirus misinformation through his passion for radio journalism.
To make your future dreams a reality, Sakaria says, “one should have a vivid career goal with a detailed action plan of its execution.” In terms of short-term goals, Sakaria wants to build a credible reputation in his field and to become an award-winning broadcast journalist.